by Mike Masnick
Tue, Nov 6th 2012 11:02am
by Joyce Hung
Fri, Jun 8th 2012 5:00pm
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
- According to researchers from Tel Aviv University, you can lose weight by topping off a 600-calorie balanced breakfast with a piece of cake. Apparently, the key is to have sweets in the morning when the body's metabolism is at its peak, then work off the extra calories during the rest of the day. Over 32 weeks, people who followed this diet actually lost 40 pounds more (and kept the weight off longer) than those who avoided eating sweets altogether. [url]
- A pastry chef in Wisconsin made a dessert version of a turducken and called it a "cherpumple." The cherpumple consisted of a cherry pie, an apple pie, and a pumpkin pie -- each baked within a cake. Then the cakes were stacked together and covered with frosting to form a giant 21-pound monster of a cake. [url]
- Mr. Kipling, a British baked-goods brand, is promoting its snap-pack "on-the-go" cake products with cake-dispensing posters. Specially converted poster sites will dispense free cake to the public, and some posters will also be sprayed with a special scent to emit the smell of cake. [url]
- To discover more food-related links, check out what's floating around in StumbleUpon. [url]
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 29th 2011 11:16am
Federal Court Invents A New Intellectual Property Right: The Money Makes It So Exclusive Right To Record
from the wtf? dept
No such luck.
Ima Fish alerts us to the appeals court ruling which upheld the lower court and seems to endorse the creation of a wholly made up new form of intellectual property right that has no basis in the law. The court clearly says that this is not a copyright case, so copyright law doesn't apply. So what right exactly is WIAA granting to its broadcasting partner? That's not clear at all from the ruling. If it's not copyright, it appears to be something entirely made up by the appeals court, which might be loosely defined as "the right to make up restrictions if it makes money." I'm not joking. The court repeatedly focuses in on the idea that the WIAA needs to make money, and that somehow makes it okay to grant a single company an exclusive license.
I don't see how this makes much sense. I could see that they should be allowed to grant a license to an "official" broadcaster, and even give them additional access, but I don't see how they can stop someone else from recording the material and broadcasting it as well -- especially when they admit that it's not a copyright issue.
And since this new exclusive made up imaginary right has no basis in law, we don't know what any exceptions are. Is there a fair use exception like in copyright? The contract says other agencies can show two minutes of streaming video from events, but it doesn't need to say that, and fair use shouldn't be determined by a contract anyway. The whole thing seems bizarre and troubling, in that it seems to suggest that public entities can create a special kind of exclusive broadcast intellectual property right if they use it to make money.
Separately, one small part of the case struck me as interesting in relation to a different case we talked about recently. In the Zediva case, we thought it was ridiculous that the court declared a paid video broadcast to your home as a public performance because the Zediva service was offered to "the public." Yet, in this case, the court insists that sporting events at public schools (which are open to the public) are, in fact, "nonpublic forums." I don't think either description makes sense. A private home is a private place. A public sporting event is a public event.
Finally, the court seems to totally overstate the situation in the ruling here and suggests a clear misunderstanding of the public domain:
The logical implications of Gannett’s argument are breathtaking. Suppose a high-school orchestra were to perform one of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos or the drama club put together a rendition of Othello (both of which are in the public domain). Gannett’s argument would require the conclusion that the students have no right to engage in the common practice of packaging their performance and selling it to raise money for school trips.While some of Gannett's arguments may have risen to that level (it did suggest that public institutions shouldn't be able to make money this way), the court also seems to suggest that just because you can't have exclusivity, you can't make money. That's silly, and wrong.
Gannett is still considering its options, but it can ask for an en banc (full court) review or it can appeal to the Supreme Court. I'm hoping it will fight this, because the ruling seems totally nonsensical.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Jun 20th 2011 7:02pm
from the small-businesses-are-the-backbone dept
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Jun 15th 2011 3:34pm
from the infrastructure dept
The move was accomplished via an eleventh hour provision AT&T managed to get inserted into the budget, in a state ranked 43rd in broadband access nationwide. Christopher Mitchell at Community Broadband Networks directs our attention to the fact that Internet 2 President H. David Lambert tried to help prevent WiscNet's defunding, writing a letter to Wisconsin's Governor Walker regarding his since-successful effort to help AT&T kill WiscNet:We see this all too often in the telco world. If there were real competition, this probably wouldn't be an issue. But so many telcos seem to focus on making sure that they're the only game in town, creating a monopoly -- which is a real "free market" problem. Contrary to what people are saying, this isn't a "free market" issue, this is an issue of regulatory capture, leading to diminished infrastructure.AT&T's ability to crush any and all public Wisconsin broadband benefit projects would be slightly-less obxnoxious if AT&T was providing the kind of infrastructure that made all of these projects unnecessary, but they're simply not. AT&T connectivity in many parts of Wisconsin consists of over-priced T1s, and lawmakers there are more than happy to write laws protecting AT&T ability to not only over charge for outdated infrastructure, but ensuring that connectivity-strained communities have no alternatives. Wisconsin's AT&T-run government is the future for all states without serious U.S. political reform, and the result will inevitably be disastrous for the future of cutting-edge connectivity.
Yet, just when other states in the country are scrambling to invest in network infrastructure to help their universities rise to meet the international research and education challenge, this legislation could essentially disconnect Wisconsin from the global research it now leads. The result would be devastating. As the only intensive research institution in the United States that would be barred from participating in its own networks, Wiscnet and Internet2, the University, with respect to the ability to participate in global research, would become an immediate equivalent of a third-world University.
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Apr 18th 2011 10:53am
from the well,-look-at-that dept
Apparently in 2004 the polls in Waukesha were teeming with voters as the Waukesha County Clerk's office showed a 97.63% turn out. No, that's not a typo. 97.63%And it's not just voter turnout that's suspiciously high. Voter registrations are unprecedented as well:
Of the 236,642 registered voters in Waukesha on Nov 2, 2004 apparently 231,031 of them came out in a hint of rain and drizzle and did their civic duty.
Just to put this in perspective, Australia has compulsory (mandatory) voting and their turnout is 95%.
In the 8 months leading into the 2004 Presidential Election there was a marginal 1.3% increase in the rolls netting about 3000 additional new voters. However in the 3 months after the election, which showed an anomalous 97.63% turn out, suddenly the rolls surged to the tune of almost 50,000 new voters and upped the rolls 20%. I suppose that's one way to even out a suspiciously high turn out.99.5% of eligible voters registered? Wow.
Furthermore, remember that first number I told you to hang on to? The 283,820 eligible voters in the county of Waukesha in July of 2004? This new surge in the voter rolls has now pushed total voter registration in Waukesha County to 99.5% of elegible voters being registered to vote by February of 2005.
But, let's not stop there. The blogger who did this research also dug up the official election results data from the 2006 election in Waukesha County, and noticed that some of the elections appeared to have more votes than ballots were cast by a fairly large number:
In the race for Governor/Lieutenant Governor there were a total of 176,112 votes cast. For Attorney General there were a total of 174,047 votes cast. And for Secretary of State there were a total 170,440 votes cast.To say the least, these numbers are pretty troubling if you believe in the integrity of democratic elections.
So, look at the 3rd line of the top of that report...Total Ballots Cast: 156,804. So based on those numbers 20,000 extra votes were cast in the election that weren't actually accounted for in the ballots cast.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 8th 2011 12:45pm
from the funny-how-that-works dept
The original results showed a very slight victory for Kloppenburg. Now, I generally avoid mentioning political parties of politicians entirely, because I find that it leads to partisan debates, which are effectively religious debates, rather than debates on the actual issues. But, here, the parties become a bit more important. Because of the highly partisan battle in Wisconsin involving a Republican Governor and Democratic elected officials, many people viewed this election as something of a proxy, with Prosser representing the "Republican" viewpoint and Kloppenburg being the hope of the "Democrats." That's a bit of a simplification, but to get to the point we're talking about here, it's enough.
With the voting results being incredibly close -- the original count had Kloppenburg with a 204 vote margin of victory, out of over 1.4 million votes cast -- it's no surprise that a "recount" has been underway, with small numbers of votes turning up here or there. However, what's turning some heads is the fact that the County Clerk in Waukesha County, Kathy Nickolaus, suddenly found 14,315 votes, with the vast majority (by a margin of 7,582) that didn't make the initial count. She claims that they weren't counted because she "failed to save the results" in the computer system. She also said that this kind of "human error" is "common in this process."
Assuming this is actually true, it seems like a pretty clear case that Nickolaus should not be in the job any more, as that's a pretty clear case of incompetence in a rather important job. Assuming it's not true... well... that's a whole different story. Of course, complicating matters is the fact that Nickolaus is apparently an active Republican and was at the center of a few former controversies, including one about election data and how Nickolaus would collect election results -- with people raising concerns months ago about "the integrity of the system." It seems that she decided "to take the election data collection and storage system off the county's computer network - and keep it on stand-alone personal computers accessible only in her office." Now, her argument, which is not entirely unreasonable, is that it's better to keep such data off the network, but given the specific concerns raised, the story is raising eyebrows.
Obviously, for folks who are die-hard supporters of either party, they can spin the story in either direction. But, if we just take a step back, and look at it from the standpoint of wanting to believe in the concepts of basic democracy, shouldn't we all be pretty concerned that any voting system, no matter how it's set up or maintained, could lead to this sort of situation where 14,000 potentially crucial votes could go completely missing without notice... and then magically turn up just as they're needed?
Even if everything is legit, and there's no compelling reason not to assume that's the case at this point, it certainly hurts the basic integrity of the election system. And that's pretty important if you want people to actually believe in the basic principles of democracy. And, honestly, why do we let any single person, especially one with a clear party affiliation, control such data? At the very least, it should be in the hands of either neutral parties, or multiple people who can see each other's actions.
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Mar 31st 2010 2:03am
from the only-in-the-world-of-lawyers dept
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 9th 2009 3:34pm
from the that's-not-what-you-want dept
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Nov 3rd 2008 3:29pm
from the the-obfuscation-of-risk dept
Now, in a combined effort between NPR's Planet Money (I know I've said this, but I'll say it again: if you're not listening to this every day, you're missing out, big time) and the NY Times, reports are coming out about how it went well beyond banks turning into hedge funds, to all sorts of other organizations as well. The scary example being described in the first article in this series is how a Wisconsin school board and the NYC subway system, both effectively became hedge funds, lending money out to various banks in exchange for CDOs (collateralized debt obligations). What a CDO is, effectively, is the mashing together of a variety of different debt instruments (loans) that pay out some sort of return. So, you could basically buy some of the return on a whole mess of loans, packaged in all different ways (some amazingly creatively).
If all of those debt instruments that you're buying into keep on paying, you're in good shape. If, however, there are defaults, you can be in an awful lot of trouble. However, while everything was going great, defaults weren't an issue and the folks sold on these CDOs often had no idea how risky they really were. In the article above, for example, the guy who sold the Wisconsin school district on investing $200 million of its pension money in CDOs had only taken a two hour course on them, and greatly downplayed the risks.
And, of course, to make matters even worse, in many cases, the actual risks of such CDOs were hidden through some games, and made worse by either clueless or complicit ratings agencies which rated seriously high risk CDOs as being extremely safe bets. To see a rather graphic (and easily understandable) example of this, I recommend the following Paddy Hirsch video comparing CDOs to pyramids of champagne glasses: